Between 2014 and 2016, the freelance industry grew by 2 million people, and independent contractors now represent 35% of our country’s workforce. This information comes to us through a recent study performed by Upwork and the Freelancers Union. The be-your-own-boss boom ignited for the most part due to the explosion in content demand. Content marketing and social media marketing have created endless opportunities for writers, artists, designers, and programmers, all of which are ideal work-from-home occupations since all you need is a computer and internet access to get the job done.

According to the study’s press release:

“More than three-quarters (79%) of freelancers said they view freelancing as better than working at a traditional job with an employer. In fact, freelancers were much more likely to describe themselves as “engaged” in their work than non-freelancers (85% of freelancers vs. only 68% of non-freelancers). Half of freelancers (50%) said they wouldn’t go back to a traditional job, no matter how much pay they were offered.”

On the downside, while 46% of full-time freelancers increased their rates in the past year, and 54% intend to raise them next year, income predictability and health benefits remain the top concerns.

Sound familiar?

Freelancers sound an awful lot like small business owners who are just starting out, don’t you think? The links between the two fields are strong already. Because outsourcing certain tasks to contractors saves money and allows them to grow and reduce staff as required, small businesses rely on freelancers just as much as freelancers rely on small businesses for financial stability.

As both fields flourish in tandem, we predict more and more freelancers will turn their success into growth. Freelancing provides those who possess a certain set of skills with opportunities to gain experience applying said skills to a wide range of areas, thanks to their variety of clients. These are the perfect circumstances for new and valuable ideas to be born, transforming freelancers into entrepreneurs.

It has already begun.

Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip

Brian Wong, CEO of Kiip, started out as a freelance ad designer… until he thought of a way to help advertisers capitalize on the most important moments in their target audience’s digital lives. From a one man band, Wong has become one of the youngest millionaires in the world, and his startup partners with McDonald’s, Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, BMW, and more.

With a million-dollar idea and a lender or investor willing to have your back, an independent contractor can make the leap to become an innovator. But as any small businesses owner knows, in order to turn a freelance gig into a business, you need the staff support required to handle the complexities of growth–accounting, sales, developers, IT support, etc. This requires cash. Luckily, non-traditional lenders are also gaining traction and trust.

Non-traditional. Independent. These words are on the rise, and as they emerge from the fringes, they are coming together to form an economical force to be reckoned with.


Recommended Reading:

The Freelancer’s Bible by Sara Horowitz